A group of scientists and students from Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology (WIHG), an autonomous institute under the Indian government's department of science & technology, studied river erosion in Ladakh Himalaya and identified hotspots of erosion and wide valleys that act buffer zones. The study revealed a 35,000-year-old history of river erosion in Ladakh Himalayas and showed how rivers in drier Ladakh Himalaya operated in longer time scales and how they responded to varying climate.
According to the department of science & technology, the study by the WIHG team will help to understand river-borne erosion and sedimentation, which are the main drivers that make large riverine plains, terraces, and deltas that eventually become the cradle to evolving civilizations. The study was published in the journal Global and Planetary Changes.
According to the research, "The wide valley of Padam, with an area of 48 square km, in the upper Zanskar, has stored a vast amount of sediments in these landforms. Where, presently, 0.96±0.10 km3 of sediment is stored in its terraces and fans, and since the last 32 thousand years, 2.29±0.11 km3 of sediment has been eroded by the river from Padam, giving it a specific sediment yield of 2.2×103 tons/km2 per year."
The Ladakh Himalaya forms a high altitude desert between Greater Himalayan ranges and Karakoram Ranges. The Indus and its tributaries are major rivers flowing through the terrain. The Zanskar River is one of the largest tributaries of the upper Indus catchment, draining orthogonally through highly deformed Zanskar ranges. Two prominent tributaries of Zanskar River are the Doda and TsrapLingti Chu, which confluence at Padam village in the upper valley to form the Zanskar River.